Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona: Fans loved Lionel Messi's wonder goal that never was in 2008

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Lionel Messi is the stuff of nightmares for most teams in Spanish football.

Such is the brilliance of the Barcelona superstar that nearly every football club in the Iberian nation worth their salt has been on the receiving end of one of his masterclass over the last 15 years.

While that might not come as much of a surprise in terms of teams in the bottom-half and mid-table sections of La Liga, it's perhaps more unexpected that a Spanish giant has been equally wounded.

Messi loves playing Atletico

That's because Atletico Madrid, one of the proudest football clubs in Europe, have seldom gone more than half a season without Messi subjecting them to a glorious goal or assist.

It doesn't matter whether Los Rojiblancos have been on course for the La Liga title or romping their way to a Champions League final, Messi loves to dish out the punishment on Barca's rivals.

According to Transfermarkt, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has scored no less than 32 career goals against Atletico as well as providing eight assists and winning 24 matches overall.

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Remembering Messi's Atletico moments

The same, truth be told, could also be said of Cristiano Ronaldo who similarly made a habit out of giving Atletico a hard time during his nine years as a Real Madrid player.

But while Atletico can breathe a sigh of relief that Ronaldo is no longer standing in their path, they will have to face the prospect of another face-off with Messi later tonight.

As a result, some of Messi's greatest ever moments against Diego Simeone's men are being pulled up on social media such as his physics-defying free-kick over Thibaut Courtois in 2012.

But here at GIVEMESPORT, we're going for the connoisseur's option that might have slipped the mind of even the most avid of Barcelona fans and we're taking it back to the pre-Simeone days.

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Messi's wonder goal that never was

In fact, we're going all the way back to 2008 when Barcelona astonishingly thrashed Atletico 6-1 with Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto'o, Rafael Marquez and Eidur Gudjohnsen all finding the net.

Naturally, Messi helped himself to a goal, too, but we're actually interested in one of the Argentine's misses from the game because it was so close to being one of his greatest strikers ever.

That's right, we're talking about the Messi wonder goal that never was and before we go any further, be sure to check out the moment of brilliance by skipping to 6:00 in the video down below.

Can. You. Imagine!?

If only...

It's astonishing to think that move started from Carles Puyol clearing the ball with a diving header on the edge of his own penalty area, before Messi took charge and showed the world his quality.

The future World Cup finalist did everything right with a Diego Maradona-burst through half the Atletico team, only to agonisingly see his chipped finish float mere milimetres wide of the post.

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It's no wonder the TV footage then showed hundreds of Barcelona fans cheering, while others were seen waving their hands downwards as though bowing to him or simply worshipping his class.

Aside from his stunning solo goals against Getafe and Athletic Bilbao in a Barcelona jersey, I'm not sure any of his club goals would have compared to that Atletico run if he had indeed finished it off.

Sadly, it just wasn't to be, but it still leaves those who remember the finest details of Messi's career with a magic moment to hold dearly ahead of his latest face-off with Atletico.

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